- A physical disability caused by an accident at work
- A prescribed disease caused by a work-related factor e.g. chemicals, excessive noise, work conditions etc.
Most Common Industrial Injuries in the Prescribed Disease Category
There are presently over 70 prescribed diseases that can warrant an industrial injuries disability benefit claim. For ease, the government has grouped the diseases according to their cause:
1. Conditions due to physical agents i.e. they have a physical cause.
These conditions include things like occupational deafness, arthritis of the knee/hip/back, cataracts of the eye, carpel tunnel syndrome, writer’s cramp and subcutaneous cellulitis. All of the conditions in this group result from prolonged exposure to their underlying cause. So for example, cataracts are sometimes diagnosed in metal and glass workers due to a prolonged exposure to the radiation emitted by red-hot and white-hot materials.
2. Conditions due to biological agents i.e. plant, animal or other living organism.
This second group of industrial diseases includes things like tuberculosis, anthrax, Glanders, Swineherd’s disease, brucellosis, hepatitis A, B and C, Lyme disease and some forms of meningitis. The conditions are normally contracted through exposure to infected animals or plants, but conditions like hepatitis A can also be contracted via contact with raw sewage.
3. Conditions due to chemical agents.
A lot of prescribed diseases are caused by prolonged exposure to chemical agents in the workplace, even when safety measures have been taken to reduce the risk. A lot of the conditions that have a chemical cause affect the central nervous system primarily, but the symptoms manifest in several main ways:
- As organ toxicity which reduces function. The lungs, liver and kidneys are normally the first organs to show signs of toxicity.
- As neuropathies (nerve damage or death) which can affect any or all regions of the body. The symptoms of a neuropathy depend on the site of the affected nerves and most become apparent over an extended period of time.
- As cancerous growths. Most cancerous growths affect the same organs that suffer from toxicity (see above). These growths are normally classed as carcinomas or adenocarcinomas and can be life threatening if they aren’t noticed in time to be treated.
Some prescribed diseases can’t be neatly placed into any of the above categories but this doesn’t mean they don’t warrant an industrial injuries disability benefit claim. In fact, any disease that causes some form of disability and is primarily caused by an agent in the workplace, and can be shown to be caused by the agent, can be claimed for.
Remember, disability benefit is there to compensate for industrial injuries and there is no shame in claiming it. The first step towards claiming compensation is to speak to an experienced lawyer to determine whether or not you have a case. Then you can start working towards protecting your livelihood and your future.